These days, we are all in a race to the finish. Every corner of life is taunting us with competition to be the best, or at least not the worst. The opportunity to compare our failures with others’ success is always there beckoning.
There must be a better life, right?
We dream of bigger futures, so we set goals for our personal lives and careers working diligently toward achievement. Because the due dates are so far into the future, it is a rare event when we feel the thrill and satisfaction of achieving these long-term goals.
Ernest Hemingway said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
Research contained in the book The Progress Principle backs up Hemingway’s quote. It is not just about goal achievement (the destination) but about enjoying the journey.
Studies show that people are much happier and more creative when they can see continuous progress in a series of smaller daily and weekly steps.
These “small wins” are incremental steps toward longer-term goals. Many of us take for granted the progress we have made and get discouraged when our final goal seems so far away. By taking time to measure how far we have come, we gain the energy and enthusiasm to continue. And the final product will be better and sweeter, having celebrated along the way.
So, how do we begin to see the process AND measure the progress? By pausing periodically throughout the day, week, and month to celebrate success. At the end of each day, identify five things you accomplished and why each is important. Build celebration and recognition into your daily rhythm.
The process, not always the outcome, is how to define success.
Celebrate yourself and your accomplishments by acknowledging the many steps along the way. This exercise is designed to increase your self-confidence and improve performance in all areas. Putting pen to paper connects these ‘wins’ directly to the brain.
The connection is so powerful that it can improve the functioning of the executive decision-making area of your brain. A positive change in your body chemistry occurs when you focus on your wins.
Celebrating success is proactive rather than reactive; an action step to living your life intentionally and on purpose. This exercise will increase happiness and decrease stress in your life. These small successes motivate you to take on bigger and bigger challenges.
A word of caution: Remember only to evaluate your reality with a mirror, not social media. Look at your life through the lens of what you have rather than what you do not have. And focus on what is working at the moment and savor that. Then look at how to move forward to the next milestone. It takes an average of 66 days for a new habit to become automatic, so do not be discouraged if you forget or miss a chance to party. Just remind yourself that it is progress, not perfection!